Monochrome Mondays

I’m torn and feeling conflicted. Wait a minute Rob, stop right there. After the last few posts people with think this is another spleen-venting post from you! Okay, lets try that again…

I have a dilemma these days. (Yes, much better Rob!) You see when I started this blog a few years ago now, taking monochrome shots wasn’t part of my regular repertoire. I had shot b&w film on occasion, but when I mostly went digital, I very rarely touched the menu options to switch to monochrome. Getting reactions to some of those early film shots convinced me that I really needed to mix it up on occasion, and since then I have. The only problem is, when I see a subject matter I really like, I take them in color and monochrome. And the dilemma sometimes, not all the time but sometimes, is deciding which I actually prefer. I took this photo reflection of clouds in a bright glass window on the photo walk. I put the color one up on Instagram a few days ago, and people liked it. But this morning as I thought about what to feature here today, I thought about looking at this more carefully today. Having two monitors at work helps me make these choices sometimes, to be honest with you. For it was here at my desk that I think I decided that I actually like this one just a bit more than the color. I can’t really say why, I just do. At the time I took it, the sky was blue, bright and cheerful, yet it almost looks ominous in monochrome. I’m realizing that maybe what monochrome does is allow me to imagine a scene either way, almost neutral. I’ll be sure to think about that one the next time I take shots in both formats!

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Monochrome Mondays

 

Climbing. That is what this weeks edition of Monochrome Mondays is about. That need to keep moving and going higher. For some that can mean career wise and climbing up that ladder of success. For others it might mean development of a talent such as playing an instrument or singing. For me personally right now it means getting back to what I do best, which is taking photographs regularly and writing. The other things don’t get ignored mind you, but this is where my heart is. In August I took on a challenge from my blogger friend Pratyusha to go 10 days without foods like bread, pasta, and sugars. I’ve never done any kind of diet or detox before in my life, but at the end of it, I felt better inside and out. Losing 10lbs was an added bonus, but it was the mental clarity that came out of it that was the most satisfying I think. I realized that I was going through the motions a bit too much in my life and what I needed to do was to get excitement back. So in the month of September I really worked on that.

First, as those of you who follow me on Facebook and Instagram know, my wife and I spent a few much needed days in Lake George to recharge the batteries as it were. Second, the diet has more or less continued since. I’ve had pasta one time in about 6 weeks actually! Third, with the nicer weather I have been getting out there with my camera more. This has probably been the most crucial thing I could do for myself. When I take lots of photos, I get ideas for writing, when I write it leads to more writing. Today’s photo is a result of this. Fourth, as a result of tweaking the design of this blog, I made a short little video that people have been responding to, and that makes complete sense for what I do (I added it to the bottom here). Fifth, in what is maybe the biggest step for this (mostly) introvert, I organized a Photo Walk in my neighborhood of Long Island City, Queens. I’ll be doing another one really soon, but this past Saturday I did the first one and I was really happy with how it turned out. Being a planner I spent a day weeks earlier mapping out a route that would take in the best views with the shortest routes between them. You can see some of these photos in the next few days across my social media. 

But today is Monochrome Mondays and this photo was taken last week coming home from work on Roosevelt Island in one of those fits of photographer joy…when you see things you walk by every day in a completely new light. This is actually a seating area designed in a steps format overlooking the East River. As I was walking home (and since it is now darker out earlier) I turned and saw these lights between each step level. I thought hmmm…that might be interesting. And with everything I just said, it might have been the most timely photo I have taken in quite some time!

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Monochrome Mondays

 

Long Island City Gantry

I am pretty sure I have mentioned here before that a favorite subject matter of mine is industrial photography. I love old machinery-pistons, valves, wheels, belts, gears-you name it. Anything that represents what technology once was.  On the rare occasion when you see all of that actually working still somewhere it is a beautiful thing. You can follow along with the movements-how it starts with one bit of machinery, and then follows along like a conveyor belt, each bit chugging away to make a wheel spin which pulls a lever, which lifts a platform, which rotates, and on and on. It is hard to find that sort of machinery in action these days, and sadly the photo choice today is also one of them. But what a scene it once must have been. What you are seeing here is a gantry, which was used to hoist railway freight cars from off a barge onto train tracks. Apparently they were a somewhat frequent sight in the industrial era of New York City, a reminder that rail and sea freight drove commercial transportation. I can just imagine all the metal on metal sounds echoing on the river, the sights and smells of all the machinery working together. I am glad that structures like this still survive, years past their last work. This particular structure is in Long Island City, Queens, in a park appropriately named-Gantry State Park

***Which speaking of Long Island City. For any of you reading this from the NY area, or for anyone with friends in the area, this coming Saturday, September 30th, I will be leading a Photo Walk through this great neighborhood, which combines some great old buildings among the new, industrial scenes, and some of the best panoramic views of Manhattan anywhere. Leave me a message if you are interested!

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Monochrome Mondays

Serenity

Here I am, back with Monochrome Mondays again for the first time in a few weeks. I hope you will apologize for the sudden absence. Long story short, I have been incorporating some changes into my personal life in the last month or so. Nothing drastic mind you, but just refocusing my energy to some good things, and stepping away from some not so good things. In terms of here on this blog, I’d like to present my new theme. It has been two years since I changed the appearance here, so with this new found desire it seemed appropriate to change how my blog looks to all of you.

A week ago my wife and I got back from a long weekend trip to Lake George, which I mentioned  in my post last week. I will spare you a repeat of that here, other than with changes in life comes times of reflection and thought. Whenever I go to a new place I get excited, and invariably on the first morning I get up early, camera in hand. There is a palatable buzz I get when that happens, and Lake George was no different. On my Facebook and Instagram pages I posted another version of this photo, but I wanted to save this one for this post. A still and quiet early morning saw me finding this little pier on the lake.  Moments like this waken my senses and awareness, and as I was firing off a few shots, I heard the sound of geese flying and I instinctively framed my shot and waited for them to come into view. Lets just say that when moments like this happen, I do not regret missing a few extra winks of sleep. I treasure the moment. Do you have moments like that? Let me know below!

Monochrome Mondays

Well we are almost halfway through August now and I have to tell you that this is the point where I really get tired of summer. The long days are nice of course, but by this point here in New York City, the stagnant heat starts to build. My energy becomes ever more sapped heading down to steamy subway stations or even going for a simple walk becomes a challenge of willpower. The city becomes grimy and dirty and you tend to count the minutes until you can get to air conditioning and  a shower.  When I was a kid filled with energy it probably did not affect me this way, but these days when it hits this point I feel unmotivated to do much of anything until the temperature drops and the humidity goes away. Perhaps it is inevitable then that the photos I tend to take this time of year tend to be more urban than my usual shots. Shots that ooze a little bit of that heat and grime. I actually took this last year in our neighborhood while my wife was driving us home one evening. I took pretty much the same view in color, but recently I looked at this one again and realized it gave the same sense of urban grime and heat. It may not be pretty in person, but the monochrome really captures the moment. Now, how about some cooler weather!

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Monochrome Mondays

Well depending on where you are reading this, summer time means heading off somewhere on vacation, or at worst, a long weekend away somewhere. This year my wife and I are choosing the latter, and in September will head out of town for a few days. So perhaps because of that (and also because I have not been taking so many monochrome photos recently) my mind goes back to previous vacations, such as last year when we went to one of our favorite places-Cape Cod. One of our favorite parts of being there is the area that comprises the Cape Cod National Seashore, which is a part of the National Parks system. There is a trail there that winds through the Nauset Marsh, a unique little ecosystem fed by the ocean and seemingly held together by the grasses that line the entire trail. At one point it meanders past this timeless scene (which I have used a color version of in an older post). The trees in the distance and the old shed are unmarred by any sort of technology. There are no power lines or even a garbage can anywhere in view in this photo. And that is why every trip to Cape Cod I ever take, I always make sure I stop by this trail. Honestly, if I had to pick just a handful of places where I could happily sit and watch the world go by, this would easily be one of my favorites!

Timeless

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Monochrome Mondays

Well if last week’s inclusion of a song was a bit different for Monochrome Mondays, then this week’s installment is different as well. I’m going to start off by saying that the photo featured this week is not a great photo, nor do I intend it to be though of as such. There is nothing special about it. No great technique used to take it with camera settings. Nope, there is none of that. It is just a rather bleak  building standing by itself looking rather lonely. Honestly, until yesterday I had completely forgotten taking it. But enjoying a lazy day yesterday, my wife and I had a bit of a marathon of The Avengers. No, not the Marvel Comics Avengers, but the classic British TV show from the 1960’s. A few years back I introduced my wife to the show.

After some initial skepticism, she became as much of a fan of the show as I was, and especially the ‘Emma Peel’ years. We enjoy watching the dapper bowler hat wearing, umbrella carrying character of John Steed (played by Patrick MacNee) and his partner in saving the world from diabolical plots, Mrs. Emma Peel (as portrayed by Diana Rigg). The show is just a lot of fun, full of silly plots and fabulous fashions, especially by Emma Peel! There was one b&w season, and one color season with the Emma Peel character. It was while watching one of my favorite b&w episodes of the show yesterday-The Hour That Never Was that I thought of this photo because my photo and this particular episode have something in common actually. The plot of that particular episode has our heroes roaming the grounds of an abandoned Air Force base. Well actually, they weren’t expecting it to be fully abandoned yet, but that mystery comprises the central point of the first 3/4 of the episode.  A great deal of time is spent by Steed and Peel roaming empty buildings, hangars and runways. Military trucks and equipment lie abandoned everywhere and there is not another soul to be seen anywhere.

Last year in Cape Cod, we also found ourselves wandering the similarly eerie grounds of the former North Truro Air Force Station. Though it is now part of the National Park Service and some of the property and buildings re-imagined, it still has a bit of that eerie feel to it while walking around, much like Steed and Peel did in the episode. Maybe it was a subconscious thing on my part and reminded me of the episode, or maybe it just seemed ‘cinematic’ in some way, but the few photos I snapped were all done in monochrome. It just seemed so fitting!

The Hour That Never Was

 

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